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Southern chain Fatz Cafe closes all 18 locations

The brand had been in decline for years after peaking at nearly 50 units in 2011. It’s part of a rash of restaurant closures in recent weeks.
Closed notices were posted on the doors of Fatz locations this week. | Photo: Shutterstock

Fatz Cafe, a chain of 18 full-service Southern food restaurants, permanently closed all of its locations on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

The brand, founded in 1988, had restaurants in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It was known for its Calabash chicken, a lightly breaded version of traditional fried chicken, and other comfort foods.

A sign on the door of its Elizabethton, Tenn., location said all existing locations were closed permanently as of Wednesday, according to wjhl.com.

“We thank you for your support throughout our years in business,” said the message from management. 

It was unclear why the restaurants closed. The company had not responded to a request for comment as of publication time.

But the chain has declined rapidly after peaking at nearly 50 units in 2011. By 2019, it had shrunk to 32 after years of negative sales, according to data from Technomic. It closed another 10 stores in 2020, when sales plummeted by 42%. All of its locations were company-owned.

It adds to a flood of recent restaurant closures as problems brought on by the pandemic and its aftermath become too much to bear. Boston Market, Applebee’s, Steak n Shake, O’Charley’s, Veggie Grill and Qdoba all announced closures in recent weeks.

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